The Snowman, 2017.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jonas Karlsson, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons
Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.
For the third time this year, Michael Fassbender has delivered a decent performance in a film well below his talents. Following Assassin’s Creed and Alien: Covenant I had high hopes that this tremendous actor would be given some meaty material. Unfortunately The Snowman has too much going on for its own good.
Fassbender plays Detective Harry Hole, a drunk and slightly passed it policeman who is drawn into a game of cat and mouse with the titular killer who leaves snowmen at the scene of his crimes. So far so good. Unfortunately the audience are then treated to multiple smaller stories that detract from the case and make its 2 hour run time feel almost torturous. It’s surprising considering the strong source material from author Jo Nesbo but it seems he didn’t have any input into the script which could explain the many faults. You have a subplot of fellow detective Katrine Bratt (Ferguson) acting a bit mysterious and seemingly obsessed with businessman Arve Stop (Simmons) and Harry’s relationship with his stepson Oleg (Michael Yates) and ex partner Rakel (another thankless role for Gainsbourg). There are also flashbacks to a similar case from several years earlier where a Detective Rafto (Kilmer) is chasing the same killer. In a tighter script all of this may have worked, but what we’re left with is a series of scenes that leap from one to the other with no discernible thought about building tension, pacing or basic plot.
The fault cannot lie completely with director Tomas Alfredson. Having proven himself a visually creative and solid director who was able to successfully translate the dense novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy back in 2011 and also the tremendous Let The Right One In; The Snowman does not feel like one of his films. In recent interviews Alfredson has admitted joining the project quite late and that approximately 15% of the script wasn’t filmed. This goes a long way to explaining how this smorgasbord of plot threads and odd scenes has come about.
A decent psychological thriller should keep you guessing about who the killer is and enthral you in their twisted motivations. You should have a lead character you can identify with and edge of your seat tense drama. Other than Fassbender turning in a decent performance, The Snowman has none of this. Frustratingly the film starts well with a tense scene that shows how the killer was made. It’s all downhill after that. About three-quarters of the way through the film where a weird dry humping scene was intercut with a character attempting to lure a sexual predator up to a hotel room I genuinely thought about leaving the cinema. But no, I had invested too much time to not stick it out. When you’re feeling like this, you know that a film is an absolute dud.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★